Not that long ago a laptop was the undisputed workhorse of a small business road warrior. These days, mobile workers looking for an equally mobile computer are just as likely to consider a business tablet, provided it can run the same stuff (i.e. Windows software) as a laptop.
HP’s Pro Tablet 610 G1 PC is just such a tablet. For this review, HP sent us the $649 top-of-the-line model G4T48UT, which runs Windows 8.1 Pro (the business-flavored version) and sports a 10.1-inch display, a 64-bit, 1.6 GHZ, quad-core Atom CPU, 4 GB of RAM and 64 GB of built-in storage. (HP also offers lesser variants of the 610 G1—ranging in price from $529 to $599—with a slightly slower Atom processor, half the RAM and storage, and a non-Pro version of Windows 8.1.)
Small Business Tablet Hardware Highs
At 1.44 pounds and 0.4 inch thick, the Pro Tablet 610 feels sturdy and substantial without being unnecessarily hefty. The 10.1-inch high-resolution display (1,920 x 1,200) is bright and vivid, and it offers a wide-angle view, which is a plus—unless you happen to be working on something sensitive while sitting in an airplane seat.
Weighing in at 1.25 pounds, the Pro Tablet 610 sports a quad-core Atom processor and a vibrant 10.1-inch, 1,920 x 1,200 resolution display.
HP says the Pro Tablet 610’s Gorilla Glass has an anti-smudge coating, and it seems to work well because fingerprints were much less of a problem than on most other business tablets we’ve used. The Windows logo just below the screen also serves as a capacitive button that returns you to the Start screen. A two megapixel, front-facing camera sits just above the screen, while an eight megapixel camera (with auto-focus) resides on the back.
You'll find pair of downward-firing stereo speakers on bottom edge of the Pro Tablet 610. While they provide no bass whatsoever—hardly surprising in a business tablet—they sound crisp, can get quite loud and, perhaps most importantly, remain distortion free even at max volume.
The ergonomic volume rocker control sits on the rear of the tablet in the upper-right corner rather than on the narrow edge, which makes the control easy to operate without having to change the position of your hands on the tablet. Even though the volume control sits right where your fingers would normally grip the business tablet, the control requires just enough effort to press so you won't inadvertently adjust the volume.
Small Business Tablet Hardware Lows
We’re not quite as impressed with the Pro Tablet 610's compliment of ports. On the plus side, the microSDXC card slot can accommodate up to a 2 TB card (never mind that 256 GB is currently the largest capacity available), and kudos to HP for putting the slot behind a door so there’s no chance of accidentally ejecting the card.
While the Pro Tablet 610 also provides Micro HDMI and Micro USB 2.0 ports, it lacks the full-size USB 3.0 port found in many competitive business tablets like Dell’s Venue 11 Pro and Microsoft Surface 3 Pro (and 2 Pro, for that matter). This prevents you from connecting a Flash memory drive to the Pro Tablet 610 unless you’re willing to purchase and carry a separate adapter. And even if you are willing, you’re still relegated to the slower USB 2.0 speeds when transferring data.
Also, you recharge most business tablets conveniently through the aforementioned Micro USB port, but that’s not the case with the Pro Tablet 610. Its power adapter plugs into a dedicated DC charging port, so if you lose that adapter you’re up the creek without a tablet until you replace it (which you won’t be able to do especially quickly or cheaply).
By comparison, a tablet that charges with USB can use any inexpensive and ubiquitous USB charger uch as this one. Incidentally, we checked to see if the Pro Tablet 610 is capable of charging via its USB port, but it isn’t. While charging devices via a dedicated port is quicker than doing so over USB, we think most people still prefer the convenience of the latter.
There’s one more relatively minor shortcoming with respect to charging, and it’s that the Pro Tablet 610 lacks a power/charging indicator light. As a result, the only way to determine the charging status is to turn on the display and consult the battery icon on the Windows lock screen.
Small Business Tablet Software and Performance
As far as software goes, the Pro Tablet 610 sticks pretty much with standard Windows 8, and we commend HP for not loading the tablet with a lot shovelware (the company includes photo sharing and Box.net apps, but that’s about it). We appreciate the absence of extraneous software given that the business tablet's OS and recovery partition takes up roughly half of the built-in 64 GB of storage. (To be fair, this phenomenon is not unique to HP.)
The thin Pro Tablet 610 lacks a full-size USB port, and you can’t use the included Micro USB 2.0 port to charge the device—there's a separate DC power port for that.
Performance from the Pro Tablet 610’s quad-core Atom felt more than adequate. We were happy to see that the display switched from landscape to portrait mode and back very quickly (1 second or less), because some business tablets lag in this area. HP doesn’t quote a battery life figure for the Pro Tablet 610, but we easily got a full workday out of its 2-cell, 31 Wh battery (non-removable) with judicious use of power management.
Accessories—specifically their availability or lack thereof—often factor in to the business tablet buying process. The Pro Tablet 610 offers a fairly meager selection. You can get a stylus, screen protector, Bluetooth keyboard, and a three-position stand case. Although we didn’t test the case, judging by the description, it doesn’t accommodate a keyboard—you have to carry that around with you separately.
Also, we wish HP would offer a docking station—it would let you use the Pro Tablet 610 like a conventional PC within the confines of an office (Dell offers such a dock for the aforementioned Venue 11 Pro.) While the Pro Tablet 610’s spec sheet (PDF link) mentions the availability of a dock, an HP representative told us it was available only for the company’s higher-end ElitePad tablet line.
The HP Pro Tablet 610 G1 PC offers good performance, a vibrant, high-res display, and excellent audio. If you need a solid business tablet you could certainly do worse. However, the lack of USB 3.0 and USB-based charging, and a paucity of accessories and expansion options make it a qualified recommendation at best.
- Price: $649
- Pros: excellent display and audio; long battery life
- Cons: lacks a full-size USB port, and charges via dedicated port rather than USB
Joseph Moran is a veteran technology writer and co-author of Getting StartED with Windows 7, from Friends of ED.
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